Authorities claim to have killed numerous rebels in that area taken over by jihadists, which is home to some 75,000 people.
Mozambique forces killed a “large” number of rebels in operations to retake the city of Palma (northeast), which fell into jihadist groups hands after a bloody attack on March 24, declared this Sunday (04.04.2021) the military.
“It isn’t over yet … but a large number of terrorists have been killed,” the commander of operations in Palma, Chongo Vidigal, told reporters.
Eleven days ago, armed groups attacked the strategic port city in a highly prepared raid that they launched within a few miles of a multi-billion dollar gas megaproject run by the French group Total.
In the devastated city of 75,000, the officer added that he could smell “terrorists’s corpses.”
In footage broadcast on local television, bodies were seen lying in streets, houses in ruins and vehicles blown up. And also some civilians collecting food.
In the attack, claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group, dozens of civilians, police and military were killed, according to official data. The actual number of victims is unknown.
Total evacuated personnel from its gas field on the Afungi peninsula and the project was halted.
For days, the military has been trying to recover Palma, which fell into rebel hands on March 26 at night after the largest attack since the violence broke out more than three years ago.
Since then, thousands of soldiers have been deployed but have failed to defeat the insurgents terrorizing the poor province of Cabo Delgado, on the border with Tanzania.
They are known as Al Shabab (“the youth” in Arabic) and have sworn allegiance to the IS group.
The latest attack has caused some 11,000 displaced people, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). More than 670,000 people had already been forced from their homes due to violence in the region, according to the UN.
The NGO Acled estimated that there were 2,600 dead before the attack in Palma, half of them civilians.